Notes from Annapolis: A New Day in the New Year

As we all know, in the month of November, Marylanders went to the polls and elected a new governor, new members of the General Assembly, new local government officials, and a new Congressional delegation. While the faces representing Marylanders in the federal system have remained the same, in January 2015 there will be significant changes in the composition of the officials in state government. While Democrats still dominate the Maryland General Assembly, the Republican Party has made major gains. Aside from the victory of Governor-elect Larry Hogan, there is a huge turn-over in the membership of the House of Delegates and the Senate with more Republicans who have been elected to the General Assembly than in previous years. At present, the Democratic leadership team in the General Assembly (under the aegis of Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch) is organizing to fill slots in the various committees of the General Assembly.

As of the date of this edition of the Lifson Law E-Newsletter, the first round of chairs of certain standing Senate Committees was announced. The new chairs for the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly include the following people: Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County, Judicial Proceedings; Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County, Executive Nominations and Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics; Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Howard and Baltimore Counties, Budget and Taxation; Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore City, Education, Health and Environmental Affairs; and Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County, Rules. So far, only Del. Maggie L. McIntosh of Baltimore City has been officially chosen to be the chair of the House Appropriations Committee. In addition to the selection of committee chairs, the Democratic leadership in the Maryland General Assembly is also charged with the delicate task of assigning members of the General Assembly to specific committees. Not only must the preferences of the members of the General Assembly be considered, but the various committees must be balanced in terms of the geography, party affiliation, and professional backgrounds of the members. This assignment of various members to specific committees will be critical for lobbyists and citizens generally who care about legislation in Annapolis.